Florida State’s Saturday opponent, the Syracuse Orange, don’t exactly have the Atlantic Coast Conference’s worst defense. They have the ACC’s second worst defense, allowing 34.2 points per game. And that designation of “second worst” applies to the ‘Cuse D again and again, across myriad defensive categories within the conference; but hand it to Syracuse: its defense is as consistent as it is atrocious.
It all begins up front with the ability to control the line of scrimmage, especially against the run. Or, in Syracuse’s case, not. The Orange are the second worst in the ACC against the run, allowing 197.3 yards per game. And they certainly don’t make it a habit of stopping their opponents behind that line of scrimmage, having registered just 49 tackles for loss. Where does that place in the ACC? Second worst.
But while ‘Cuse can’t stop the run, it makes up for it by not stopping the pass. Syracuse allows 274.2 yards per game through the air, the second worst average in the ACC. Of course, when you’ve generated the second fewest sacks in the conference (14), that doesn’t exactly help your secondary too much. And perhaps that accounts for why the Orange’s 31 passes defended are the second lowest total in the ACC.
Whether it be via stripping balls and recovering fumbles or picking off opponents’ passes, this ‘Cuse defense simply doesn’t take the ball away. Care to hazard a guess as to where it ranks in the ACC regarding turnovers gained? You’ve been paying attention: second worst.
But while the Syracuse defense is continually beaten out for the title of best of the ACC’s worst in several categories, it’s No. 1 on another list: no team Florida State has played this season gives up as many points, per game, as Syracuse.